BAGHDAD, Iraq # U.S. forces killed 11 Iraqi insurgents who ambushed their patrol in the northern Iraqi town of Samarra, a military spokesman said.
Meanwhile, an American soldier was wounded and two Iraqis were killed as Saddam Hussein loyalists clashed with U.S. troops and Iraqi police in Ramadi.
The violence occurred Monday as U.S. officials said documents found with ex-Iraqi leader Saddam over the weekend show he was linked to the insurgency against coalition forces in Iraq.
In the Samarra ambush, Lt. Bill McDonald said members of Task Force Ironhorse # part of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division # were on a routine patrol when they were hit in a coordinated attack, involving rocket-propelled grenades and mortars. A second patrol, operating nearby, assisted in repelling the ambush.
There were no U.S. casualties, McDonald said.
Apparently signaling the patrol’s arrival in Samarra, a flock of pigeons was released, quickly followed by a preliminary attack by two men on a motorcycle with a machine gun, before the larger ambush.
In the Ramadi violence, U.S. forces came under fire as a crowd of up to 750 Saddam supporters rallied around the Governance Center.
“Our forces were fired upon at the Governance Center, wounding one U.S. soldier. We immediately returned fire, killing two and wounding two others,” a statement from the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division said.
In a separate attack in the Ramadi area, about 30 Iraqis fired on a military unit returning from a weapons cache. The unit returned fire, killing one of the attackers, according to the statement.
Ramadi is about 75 miles west of Baghdad in the area known as the “Sunni Triangle,” a hotbed of anti-coalition activity.
Pentagon officials say they are focusing their interrogations of Saddam on the insurgency connection. They add that Saddam’s arrest has already paid off, with papers found with him leading to the arrest of at least one Iraqi resistance leader.
The documents detailed a meeting of resistance cell leaders # and included their names, officials said.
Despite the findings, Saddam has so far remained defiant as officers press him during interrogations about the insurgency targeting coalition troops in Iraq, U.S. officials in Washington said.
During questioning a day earlier, one senior official said simply that 66-year-old Saddam was a “wiseass.”
Saddam, who is being held at an undisclosed location in Iraq, has denied having ties to terrorists or knowledge of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), according to the officials.
The former Iraqi president was captured in primitive conditions, alone and with no communications.
While Saddam is not expected to cooperate on questions about his weapons programs, officials hope more Iraqi scientists will come forward with details now that he is in custody.
Saddam reportedly asserted to interrogators that Washington invented the presence of WMD to justify the invasion of his country, Time magazine correspondent Brian Bennett told CNN, quoting a U.S. official in Iraq who had seen an initial interrogation report.
President Bush has expressed skepticism about what details Saddam might provide.
“He’s a deceiver, he’s a liar, he’s a torturer, he’s a murderer. I can’t imagine why he would change his attitude,” Bush told reporters in Washington.
“I’d be very cautious about relying upon his word in any way, shape or form.”
Members of the Iraq Governing Council who were allowed to visit the deposed leader to help identify him, echoed that assessment.
Governing Council member Adnan Pachachi said Saddam was “not apologetic,” and instead was “sarcastic and making a mockery of the Iraqi people.”
Authorities are checking the $750,000 in U.S. currency found in Saddam’s possession to determine whether it is part of the $1 billion looted from Iraq’s Central Bank shortly before his government fell, a U.S. Treasury official in Washington said Monday.
Officials suspect the cash may prove to be from the truckloads of funds Saddam allegedly authorized his inner circle to remove as U.S. troops closed in on Baghdad.
“That is our prime hypothesis,” said Deputy Assistant Treasury Secretary Juan Zarate in Washington.
“It appears to be in U.S. one hundred dollar bills similar to how it was packaged at the Central Bank.”
Zarate said the serial numbers are being cross-checked against Iraqi government bank documents to ensure the money is not counterfeit.
“It’s $750,000 that can’t be used for bounty,” Zarate said.
About $100 million of the looted Iraq money is still unaccounted for, Zarate said, adding that approximately $900 million has been recovered to date. When he was captured, Saddam said: “I am president of Iraq.”
Meanwhile new details emerged Monday about Saddam’s capture Saturday evening.
Soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division who participated in the raid said they were preparing to toss a grenade or fire into a hole they had uncovered # standard procedure for their own safety # when they saw a pair of upraised hands.
The hands belonged to a face # the haggard, weary face of Saddam.
“I am Saddam Hussein,” the bearded ex-leader told the soldiers. “I am president of Iraq. I want to negotiate.”
The soldiers replied: “President Bush sends his regards.”
Maj. Gen. Ray Odierno, the 4th Infantry Division’s commander, said U.S. forces in Iraq feel a sense of satisfaction after Saddam’s capture, but that a lot of work remains.
“It’s a psychological victory for us,” Odierno said. “But we still have insurgents on the ground still conducting operations, so all the soldiers must stay focused and mission-oriented as we continue our mission here on the ground.”
Bush had this message Monday for Saddam: “Good riddance.
“The world is better off without you, Mr. Saddam Hussein. And I find it very interesting that when the heat got on, you dug yourself a hole and you crawled in it.”
Speculation turned Monday to where and when a trial of the former ruler might be held.
One member of the Iraqi Governing Council said Saddam could be tried within the next few weeks and executed if convicted by an Iraqi war crimes tribunal.
Iran, though, said it was preparing a criminal complaint against him to present to an international court, if one were to be formed to try Saddam.
Also Monday, two almost-simultaneous car bombings outside Iraqi police stations left at least eight people dead, Iraqi officials said.
CNN’s Nic Robertson, Jamie McIntyre, Barbara Starr, Jane Arraf, Al Goodman, Alphonso Van Marsh, John King, David Ensor, Terry Frieden and Satinder Bindra contributed to this report.